20 Hidden DVD Gems to Seek Out: Vol. 2: Part Two

Over the course of this week, we will uncover twenty titles you need to seek out at your local DVD store. Here is Part 2.

The list is laid out something like this. The title, year it was made, genre, synopsis and finally my rating. I hope to do more of these lists as I uncover some of the treasures hidden at the local videostore.

5.  The Crimson Rivers (France – 2000)

(Crime-Thriller): Infamous and stoic French actor Jean Reno (“Leon the Professional”) stars as Pierre Niemans, a French detective is brought to a remote mountain college to investigate the grisly murder of a student. Niemans eventually has to team-up with a local hot-shot police officer, Max (Vincent Cassel) when their cases collide with shocking results.

Jean Reno is one of my favorite European actors and he does disappoint in this stylish and grisly investigation.

Reno is perfect for the role and it is amazing how good he can be when given such incredible subject material.

The relationship between Reno and Cassel is brilliant on film. There is so much to herald in this film. There hasn’t been a great crime-thriller probably since “Se7en”, Rivers comes close.

(106 mins) (4 out of 5) So Says the Soothsayer.

Extra note on this film: The DVD’s English track is a pretty close to perfect dub with Reno and Cassel doing their own voices. A sequel is to be released this year in France.

6.  Dangerous Beauty (1998)

(Historical Drama): In the 16th century, Veronica Franco (Catherine McCormack) falls totally in love with Marco Venier (Rufus Sewell).

Standing in their way of total bliss is Venier’s rich family who are against their impending marriage. Veronica locks her love deep inside and is advised by her mother Paola (Jacqueline Bisset) to become the greatest courtesan Venice has ever seen. Veronica does her best to cope but even the luxurious life of a courtesan can’t keep her love bottled up. Naomi Watts, Fred Ward and Oliver Platt co-star.

To put it directly, “Dangerous Beauty” is not your every-day love story. You have the heroine of the story giving herself up to become a high-classed call-girl because she can’t have the one she loves. Then the film follows the woman as she continues to denounce her true feelings.

What makes this film so involving is the struggle and immersion that not only the audience goes through but actress McCormack.

The film’s historical visuals will make you drool as the costumes, sets and acting are all superb. You will believe you are a part of 16th century.

(111 mins) (3.5 out of 5) So Says the Soothsayer.

7. Fear (1996)

(Thriller): In the late 1990s, director James Foley had a one-two punch with 1999’s “The Negotiator” and the little film “Fear”. The latter would spawn the careers of now Hollywood A-listers Mark Wahlberg and Reese Witherspoon.

The film told the story of an innocent sheltered16-year old girl, Nicole (Witherspoon), who meets a suave boy named David (Wahlberg) at a rave.

Before Nicole and her family realize, David becomes a monster and their whole world is turned upside-down.

“Fear” has become known as the teen-Fatal Attraction. The engrossing performance from newly turned rap-star Marky Mark made the film. Wahlberg delivered in spades with his shocking and jaw-dropping portrayal of David.

His engrossing monster was perfectly complimented by Witherspoon’s delicate and soon fractured portrayal of Nicole.

“Fear” was probably over-looked by a lot of people because it’s another “Fatal Attraction” film but like “Bad Influence” it is a hard film to ignore on the merits it presents.

(97 mins) (3.5 out of 5) So Says the Soothsayer.

8. Fright Night (1985)

(Horror): Pimply-faced Charlie Brewster (William Ragsdale) discovers that he has a vampire (Chris Sarandon) living next to him. No body believes him and Charlie decides he needs to recruit television personality and vampire hunter, Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowell) to stop the “lord of the undead”.

“Fright Night” is probably one of the best vampire films ever made, that sadly nobody saw. The film has such a simple premise and has such great execution. Sometimes that is all you need.

But what makes the film so enjoyable seems to be its simplicity. What is amazing about the film is its perfect blending of horror and spoof.

McDowell is brilliant as the washed-up TV personality. It is probably one of his best roles to date.

(111 mins) (3 out of 5) So Says the Soothsayer.

Extra note on this film: Why isn’t the sequel, “Fright Night II” on DVD yet? In some ways the sequel outdid the original and would be welcomed to any DVD collector’s collection.

2 thoughts on “20 Hidden DVD Gems to Seek Out: Vol. 2: Part Two

  1. Good call on “Fear” — I always felt that was highly underrated as a psychological/stalker thriller. And the scene with the dog and the doggy door? Still think about that one every time I see a doggy door.

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